Strange Bedfellows: Retailers Join Google To Fend Off Amazon
In the cutthroat world of retailing, where margins are thin and customer loyalties are often as fluid as the next big blowout sale, retailers are apt to do anything they can to keep consumers coming back.
And sometimes, that can result in alliances of some unlikely bedfellows.
On Monday, those included Target, Walmart, Costco, Home Depot and Ulta Beauty, which are all hitching at least part of their wagons to Google in a move aimed at improving their online sales and eroding the market dominance enjoyed by e-commerce kingpin Amazon.
Google and the big-box retailers are teaming up on a new program in which those companies can have their products listed on Google Search, the Google Express shopping service, and the Google Assistant app on mobile phones and voice devices. Of course, Google isn't doing this out of the kindness of its heart. The retailers will pay Google a piece of each purchase in exchange for their stores and products showing up on Google listings and being linked to retailers' loyalty programs.
Reuters reported that the new partnership, called Shopping Actions, will be made available to retailers of any size in the United States. The aim of the program is to help retailers make sales from customers who search for products on Google, instead of looking up details and then buying items from Amazon.
"We have taken a fundamentally different approach from the likes of Amazon because we see ourselves as an enabler of retail," said Daniel Alegre, Google's president for retail and shopping, in an interview with Reuters. "We see ourselves as part of a solution for retailers to be able to drive better transactions."
The service will enable customers to find products, and then purchase items through a single shopping cart. The feature would, in theory, give customers the convenience of buying from multiple retailers at once, instead of going back over to Amazon to complete their purchases.
Allegre said early results from the Shopping Actions program showed the average size of retailers' online shopping baskets has increased by 30 percent, a sign that consumers want the convenience of shopping directly from their Google searches.
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Image credit: Google; Artist's concept.